Wharton graduate and Penn faculty member Evan McMullin announced on Tuesday his candidacy for the Senate in Utah for next year’s midterm elections, in a challenge to replace conservative Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).
McMullin announced in his Oct. 5 campaign launch video that he will run as an Independent and “a patriot committed to defending our nation," rather than as a Republican or Democrat.
“The extremes in Washington don’t represent Utah. They prevent us from governing ourselves, and they jeopardize our democracy,” McMullin says in the video. McMullin is currently a faculty lecturer in the Penn in Washington program, where he Zooms in to co-teach PSCI 398-303: "The Future of Conservatism and the GOP: Radicalization, Renewal Or Replacement."
McMullin, who graduated from the Wharton School with an MBA in 2011, is best known for his 2016 presidential run as an Independent, during which he centered his platform around “principled, conservative leadership." A known critic of former President and fellow Wharton graduate Donald Trump’s politics, the former undercover Central Intelligence Agency officer denounced Trump as a threat to democracy in a New York Times op-ed published in December 2016.
On January 25, 2017, McMullin announced the creation of Stand Up Republic, a nonpartisan organization set on holding the Trump administration accountable and reforming government through media and grassroots campaigns.
During his presidential run, McMullin was able to win 21% of the popular vote in Utah, but less than 1% of the national vote, according to Fox News. In 2016, Vox News reported that McMullin's popularity in Utah may have been tied to his identity as a Mormon and as a graduate of Brigham Young University, and that some Republican voters may have chosen him as a "more palatable alternative" to Trump than other candidates who leaned closer to the left on social issues.
Following his work with the CIA and his time at Penn, McMullin worked at Goldman Sachs in investment banking, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee as an adviser. According to Yahoo News, McMullin also served as a House Republican Conference policy aide.
In the upcoming Senate race, McMullin will likely face challenges in opposing Lee, who was reelected in 2016 with nearly 70% of the vote, Politico reported. Lee also serves as the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee.
Strategy consultant Tony Altimore, who graduated Wharton in 2011 with McMullin, told The Daily Pennsylvanian in 2017 that he believed McMullin to be a great fit for public service.
“[McMullin] has a steady, sharp, and intelligent way of looking at things,” Altimore said, following McMullin’s presidential run. “Evan McMullin is the type of person we need in government, no matter which party.”